7 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Flute
Reliability - How Long Will the Flute Last?
Usually, the better brands last longer.
The more care and precision that your flute makers used when they were building your flute, the less trouble it will give you. Craftspeople who turn out only one flute every two weeks, tend to take more care with their flutes than workers who are under pressure to meet a production schedule of 50 flutes a day.
1. Reliability - How Long Will the Flute Last?
2. How to Spot a Forgery?
3. Extras - Which are the Ones You Need?
4. Tone Quality What Makes a Flute Sound Good?
5. New vs Second-hand
6. Design, Features and Options
7. The Best Brand
I would expect that a well made flute such as a Yamaha YFL 221 would give you at least 10 years of reliable playing, with only two or three services during that time. I’ve also seen much cheaper colored instruments still playing well after 4 years of regular, moderate use, with only one or two minor adjustments. At the other extreme it’s not uncommon to open the case of a brand new discount instrument, fresh from the store, and find that it is unplayable. This is more likely to happen if you buy direct from a factory in China, or from a Bargain Basement style store.
The problem is that if you are a beginner, you won’t know if it’s you or the instrument that is responsible for your lack of beautiful music. Some dealers claim to play-test each instrument before it leaves their showroom, which is reassuring to a certain degree.
The difference in quality between the famous brands like Yamaha, Pearl, Armstrong and the cheaper brands like Cibaili, Hawk and Mendini is a matter of consistency. The famous brands are always good. It is extremely rare to open the case of a Yamaha, fresh from the shop and find that it is unplayable, or that the cleaning rod is missing, or that the case reeks with the smell of glue. The disappointment rate would be way less than one percent. Whereas, with the cheaper brands, the disappointment rate varies from 5% to 100%.
How often does a flute need to be serviced?
Every 50,000 notes?
It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the time between services, but certainly no more than once a year. The more you play, the more often your flute will need a service. If you learn how to make adjustments yourself you can stretch out that time even further.
One point worth considering is that sometimes flute repairers don’t like servicing the cheaper brands of flutes, because they believe that even after the flute is fixed, it might not stay fixed. Naturally the player will blame the repairer, so the repairer may choose to only perform very minor adjstments. If you bought your flute cheaply enough in the first place, this might not even be an issue, because, even if the cost of repair is going to be high, you can just trash the flute and buy a new one!
My recommendation: The famous brands, see page 20 of this report, are usually the most reliable.